School Supplies for Your Homeschool
The school year is starting in your homeschool and you go to reach for a pen to jot down a thought about teaching little Billy fractions in the kitchen while baking and…. there are no working pens!
Has this ever happened to you (the reaching for a working pen or pencil and finding none)?
Well it has happened to me!
Essential Supplies for Your Homeschooling Year
I have a list of essentials that I keep stocked in our homeschool throughout the year, just as I keep coffee stocked in the kitchen.
Here is my list:
Printer Paper – The quality or type really doesn’t matter, all that matters is that it is paper. You can go the buy-it-online route if you like and it isn’t too expensive ($12 for 3 reams). But the best deal to be had is to find a commercial printer supply paper company, like Kelly Paper, that also sells to the public and take a trip down to their store. If you buy a box (with 8-10 reams, those are the paper-wrapped packs of 500 sheets of paper) of something that your printer can handle in terms of thickness and size from the sale area, your kids might be doing their worksheets on orange or pink paper for a year of two, but you will save a bundle! I also stock a ream of card stock that is really useful for workbook covers or 3D art projects. One ream of card stock lasts me a few years.
Lined Writing Paper – This you can do without if you find really cheap printer paper and print up writing sheets for your kids using one of those templates you find around the internet that include a cute drawing or design. We always purchase a package of writing paper though, just cause the kids like it a lot and it really isn’t expensive, especially if you get the kind in many colors that is only $2.76 for a package of 100 sheets.
Printer Ink Cartridges for our Printer – We have tried many, many printers over the years but I found Epson printers to be hands-down the best overall buy. They are not expensive machines and the ink is pretty inexpensive (roughly $8 for 2 black, and one of each color) and lasts a long time.
Pencils – My kids love the pencils with the fun shapes and colors printed on the barrel, but it is hard to find cute pencils that are made well and don’t end up with broken lead after the first roll-and-tumble off the dining room table. Since they are so inexpensive, though, I usually have a pack of 12 of these around the house for the kids but mainly I stock the Dixon Ticonderoga brand – these are the best I have found at a reasonable price (here is a link to a pack of 12 for $1.99 as an add-on on amazon).
Glue sticks and all-purpose glue – Important and cheap during the back-to-school sales.
Markers – I usually get a new set of markers each year and toss those that we have which are starting to dry up. Markers tend to dry out, especially if you have creative kids like I do that often forget to recap them! Word of warning, fishing the marker caps out of vacuum cleaner hoses when they get stuck in the machine could actually count as a homeschool-style hands-on engineering or physics project for a child who is interested in how machines work. And if not, I have found that using kitchen tongs and skewers work best on the Crayola marker caps if they are jammed in the hose of a vaccuum cleaner.
Crayons – If you have little ones, you probably already have crayons, so don’t make the mistake of buying more. I think I have enough partially-used crayons to last through to my great-grandchildren and I never really went out of my way to buy them. Crayons are cheap. There is a reason. They need you to keep buying them, even though one purchase or two will probably last your child’s whole life, barring an unexpected wall coloring art project gifted to you by a well-intentioned toddler. But in that case, you probably won’t want to see another crayon again ever!
A Sturdy Pencil Sharpener – we have been through a ballizion kinds of pencil sharpeners from the handheld mini sharpeners to the electric versions and the best and most reliable I have found is the old fashioned, turn the crank pencil sharpener. My son bought me one from a neighborhood garage sale about 5 years back and that pencil sharpener is one of the best presents I ever got.
You Can Outfit Your Homeschool with Supplies for Less Than $50
Your overall budget to get outfitted with supplies, if you do it during all the back to school sales can easily be under $25 to $50 if you shop around to places like dollar stores and look for ‘add-on’ deals at amazon. We also shop for items for the annual shoe boxes that we fill for the Operation Christmas Child project from Samaritan’s Purse and I have noticed that a lot of supplies are modestly on sale in August and September but then in January and February these supplies drop to rock-bottom prices. So I would suggest getting what you need to get started and then keeping your eye on the sales throughout the year. When you see really low prices, grab up what you will need for a while and if you are lucky you only need to purchase supplies once every couple of years.
Student and Teacher IDs Help You Save Money on Supplies
Student and Teacher IDs are a great thing to have. In our state, these are not legally necessary but as my kids got older they are nice to have. And the teacher ID allows me to get discounts at various stores and memberships we will discuss below. There are situations, like internship applications or library cards, where having a student ID is necessary. We purchase IDs from the HSLDA because their IDs are inexpensive, laminated, and come with the HSLDA phone number and enough ‘don’t hassle this kid, we are lawyers and we aim to protect him’ language on the cards that I feel comfortable letting my teens participate in activities. Ok, you might think I am paranoid but as the Studio C skit goes, “Don’t you know the three laws of homeschooling? One – Don’t talk to strangers. Two – Never, ever, go out during daylight hours. And Three – Mother is always right!. (I like the last law the best, personally!)
Consider Memberships To Save of Costs
Memberships can save you money. Lots of money. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area and there is an organization here called RAFT (I think there is one up in Sacramento and in Colorado as well, for those of you out there). RAFT stands for Resource Area For Teachers and boy do they live up to their name! For a reasonable annual membership fee, a teacher (that includes you, especially if you have that Teacher ID handy) can get into RAFT warehouses. They have everything you could possibly think of to use for science projects or crafts or pretty much any hands-on anything your child might do for lessons. And it is absolutely rock-bottom cheap!
RAFT also has teaching project ideas that go with a lot of the bits and parts you pick up in the bins and our local RAFT warehouse has a teacher resource area with ideas and suggestions.
Even if you are not near a RAFT warehouse, you can still gets loads of ideas from their more than 700 online idea sheets, so it is worth a bit of time regardless.
This might be the best deal a homeschooling mom could find, anywhere. The only catch is that no children are allowed in, which makes sense given the bins and bins of creativity-inciting geedunk!
So poke around your local area for resources that can help you get supplies at a discount. You are a teacher, you just teach some children you know really well and you don’t get paid or have an office to drive to. (In our state, we are legally formed as small private schools and not homeschools so more than just technically, we are teachers.)